William J. Ray was born in Washington D.C. during World War II. With his mother he migrated West in 1955 to San Bernardino, California, then left in 1962 for Berkeley where he studied and labored a decade. After his marriage to Judith Ann Heegler in 1966 and their 1971 decision to leave the urban setting with their growing family, he bought land near Willits California, located in the Pacific coastal mountain range. He homesteaded while contracting as a rural carrier until retirement on his terms in 2001. The valley seen in the cover picture was his home locale from twenty-seven years to old age.
During that generation of American political history he participated in civil disobedience, citizen campaigns, and Congressional visits intended to warn against the perverse path of the American militarist state, as it repeated the catastrophes of imperial Greece and Rome.
In an extended metaphor to depict State power’s life-and-death domination over personal, verifiable truth, from 2006 he studied the eclipsed biography of Edward de Vere, a prodigal Elizabethan nobleman whose art was accepted posthumously into official history after his family fictionalized his nom de plume, William Shakespeare, into a politically contrived legend.
Ray’s work became widely published regionally. He achieved international recognition as an independent scholar. The March 10, 2013 reading marked his seventieth year and a farewell to public poetry.
Listen to live readings of WJ Ray from March 10, 2013 in mp3 format
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